There are a lot of wonderful things to be done with a few stems of rhubarb: lightly stewed in muscovado sugar, folded in to a fool, packed in to a pie or turned in to a tart, the options, although not endless, leave plenty of choice. But my firm and unadulterated favourite is a rhubarb crumble. What else (other than the tender collapse of the tart bramley apple) provides just the perfect balance of fruity acidity covered in a glorious, rich and sweet crumbly, crumble topping. I am not a food snob, inverted or the otherwise, (sometimes complexity of flavour and technique are just what you want), but for the most part, in my world, simplicity equals maximum flavour and pleasure. I think often, when ingredients are given their head – that is to say, when you use a minimum of ingredients in maximum quantities – their flavours can sing in a way that would get lost in the more intricate of dishes.
There is nothing sophisticated about crumble and there is absolutely everything right about that. No other pudding gives so much pleasure with such little effort. That’s not to say that care doesn’t come in to it: crumbles are for sharing and so inevitably we make them for our friends and family. There is great care and effort in this, even if we do not notice it ourselves. Rhubarb crumble is a great big loving squeeze in a bowl: tart and tangy fruit, softened with brown sugar; buttery, crumbly topping with the gentlest of hints of warming ginger – a long time friend of the rhubarb. There is still a little forced rhubarb about, it’s ruby red stems just asking to be eaten. Drop in to your local greengrocers, market or farmers market and buy half a dozen stems. That way you can get home and in the space of an hour have a steaming, fragrant and lovely crumble waiting for you on the table.
RHUBARB AND GINGER CRUMBLE
5 or 6 stems of rhubarb
225g/8oz Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
85g/3oz butter replacement – Pure Sunflower Spread
135g/6oz soft brown sugar
1tsp ground ginger
½ inch piece of fresh ginger
Preheat the oven to 180c (160c Fan). Trim the ends from the rhubarb and cut in to 1cm rounds. Fill the base of a ceramic baking dish (approximately 10 x 4 inches in size) with the chopped rhubarb. Peel the fresh ginger and finely grate over the rhubarb, then scatter over 60g/2oz of the soft brown sugar.
Next, place the flour, ground ginger and remaining brown sugar in to a bowl, stir together and then rub in the butter replacement until the mixture is of a breadcrumb consistency. Scatter the crumble topping over the rhubarb until covered and even. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until golden and bubbling on the top.
You can also find this recipe on Cybele Pascal's brilliant site, Allergen Free Cuisine.